POLITICS
02/02/2011 02:04 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Egyptian, Tunisian Well-Being Dropped As GDP Rose: Gallup

As protests against the Egyptian government continue through their ninth day, a new survey report offers hints of growing discontent among Egyptians over the past several years.

The report shows the drop in well-being in Egypt mirrored in Tunisia, where protesters have already toppled the country's government, even as per capita GDP has steadily risen in both countries.

Gallup found that the proportion of Egyptians the pollster classified as "thriving" according to their well-being index fell from 29 percent to 11 percent between 2005 and last year. The largest drop during that period occurred between 2007 and 2008, when the percentage of respondents classified as thriving dropped from 25 percent to 13 percent.

During the same period, Gallup's Jon Clifton and Lymari Morales note that Egypt's GDP rose from $4,762 per capita to $6,367 per capita. The Gallup report states that research has shown the well-being index to be correlated to per capita GDP growth, although a paper by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers suggests this applies more to short term growth in GDP than long term growth.

Gallup found that the drop in well-being since 2005 has been consistent across all income groups in Egypt, although they found a slight uptick among the 20 percent of the country with the highest incomes since 2009.

Since Gallup began measuring well-being in Tunisia in 2008, that country has also seen a sharp drop in the percentage of people classified as thriving, from 24 percent in 2008 to 14 percent in 2010. During that same period GDP per capita for Tunisia rose from $8,891 to $9,489.

Data from the Pew Global Attitudes Project confirms a disconnect between the rise in GDP per capita and perceptions of the Egyptian economy during this time. In their Egyptian survey, the proportion of respondents reporting that the country's economic situation was "good" dropped from 53 percent to 20 percent of respondents between 2007 and 2010. Pew also found a dramatic drop in the percentage of Egyptians satisfied with the direction of their country between 2006 and 2010, from 55 percent to 28 percent.

To calculate their well-being index, Gallup surveyed 2,000 adults in each country using face-to-face interviews. They surveys have a margin of sampling error of 2.6 percentage points. Read the full report here.